Church roofers move to schools.

Is nowhere safe from metal thieves? Ecclesiastical Insurance, which has for a long time bemoaned the cost of stolen metal from churches, is now warning that schools are being targeted by thieves.

The insurer has reported a large increase in the volume of claims it is receiving from schools for theft of metals.

In 2006 Ecclesiastical received six claims from schools for metal theft totalling £6,000. Last year, the number rose sharply to 141 claims worth £435,000. This year, by the start of the summer holidays, Ecclesiastical had already received 133 claims worth £360,000.

Metal theft costs the UK economy more than £360m every year, according to the insurer. High demand from emerging economies has driven up the price of scrap metal and this in turn is fuelling metal thefts.

Chris Lees, head of underwriting at Ecclesiastical, says: “We have been running a major campaign to alert churches to the growing problem of metal theft and as a result security has been tightened.

“With metal prices staying high, thieves have been looking for easier targets and we have seen a sharp increase in claims from schools. We expect a sharp rise in these figures as thieves will have had more opportunity to raid empty school premises during the long break.”